COVID-19 ICS update - 10 December 2020

This bulletin provides important information for people working in health and care across the North East and North Cumbria regarding guidance and actions being co-ordinated across our region to care for patients, staff and our communities in the light of COVID-19. We will do our best to keep you updated with the latest information and key decisions from the Health Co-ordinating Group. This group is led by Alan Foster, executive lead for the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System. If you have any questions or would like us to send vital information to partners through this bulletin, please contact us here.
Message from Alan Foster
Alan Foster
Landmark moment – COVID-19 vaccine
It has been a momentous week with our first patients and staff receiving the COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday.

I’m sure like me you were moved by the stories we heard in the media about what this means for people and their loved ones - a light at the end of the tunnel after what has been a very difficult year.

Thank you everyone for the extraordinary efforts to get us to this point, I know there has been a huge amount of work behind the scenes and this continues as we plan for further roll outs of the vaccine. Particular thanks to the team at Newcastle Hospitals who are co-ordinating this complex programme with many partners and colleagues across the patch.

We are of course not over the line yet. We must keep going and continue to the follow rules. This message was shared by the clinical teams at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust when Tyne Tees and Look North met with staff and patients on the ITU. Tonight, this message is being reinforced by medical director, Deepak Dwarakanath and chief nurse, Lindsey Robertson at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust on Look North, please tune in if you can.

Over the next few weeks primary care networks will start to stand up sites and they will arrange for over 80s to be offered their vaccine. This will be a slow and steady process as more locations come on stream across primary care, large vaccination centres and more hospital hubs.

It's important to remind patients and staff that when the right time comes, they will receive an invitation to come forward for their vaccine. For most people this will be a letter, either from their GP, their employer or the national NHS. This letter will include all the information a person will need to book appointments, including your NHS number. We are asking the public not to contact the NHS to get an appointment until they get this letter.

The NHS will offer the vaccine to more groups of people and in more ways, like local vaccination services, but this will be a marathon over the coming months, not a sprint.

The public can really help the NHS deliver this effectively to those who need it most. Our asks are:
  • We will contact you when it’s the right time to come forward so please don’t seek a vaccine before then;
  • Please act on your invite and make sure you attend your appointments when you arrange them;
  • And of course, please continue to abide by all the social distancing and hand hygiene guidance, which will still save lives.
The first phase priority groups are described in this poster.

Care home residents and staff are a high priority and so as soon as it is possible for them to do so, GPs and local primary care networks will begin vaccinating care home residents. This may start before Christmas.

In the first instance we will be working to vaccinate as many care home staff as safely as possible in hospital hubs in the immediate days and weeks, including bringing in staff.
Taking the vaccine into the community and into care homes will come over the following weeks.

Thank you for your unwavering support
This week we launched this film to thank staff, our partners and our communities for their unwavering support this year. And as a reminder to everyone to have a safe Christmas and to look out for one another.

We were delighted that fellow north easterner and music legend Mark Knopfler gave his permission for us use the song Brothers In Arms for the film which includes a series of images of staff from across the region. You can read our release here.

The seven local authorities in the North East launched their Beat Covid North East campaign - you can check out the website here. The campaign thanks the north east for everything they have done to beat COVID-19 and asks them to keep going. Please do what you can to get behind this campaign and share on all your channels.

Flu vaccine – there’s still time
There’s still time for people to receive the flu vaccine so do keep pushing this message – vaccines are now available for those aged 50-64 and we are continuing to encourage those in at risk groups to come forward. It is crucial we get as much of our workforce vaccinated as possible.
If you haven’t already, please share this cute film from our very own mini superheroes who have had their nasal spray this year! it is being shared across social media and is aimed at parents and carers of children age two – three.

Health and wellbeing
As we all know, looking after our health and wellbeing is a key priority for us all at the minute as we continue to work throughout these incredibly challenging times. I am happy to share that a new NHS HowFit (Home Wellbeing and Fitness) Plan has been launched across Gateshead, Newcastle and North Tyneside.

HowFit encourages users of any ability to undertake a plan of simple exercises that can be carried out at home without the need for any special equipment.
The programme has been created by local consultant physician, Dr Steve Parry, in partnership with NHS North Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS Newcastle Gateshead CCG. More information can be found on the HowFit website.

A busy week – again. Keep going everyone.

Best wishes,


Alan Foster is the executive lead for the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System

Other news and updates

The R number in the UK: The latest reproduction number (R) and growth rate of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the UK can be found here on GOV.UK.

Public Health England dashboard: The Public Health England (PHE) dashboard can be found here. Daily reporting includes deaths that have occurred in all settings where there has been a positive COVID-19 test, including hospitals, care homes and the wider community. The report also includes case rates per 100,000 resident population at lower-tier local authority level.

National flu and COVID-19 surveillance reports: A link to the weekly national flu and COVID-19 report, monitoring COVID-19 activity, seasonal flu and other seasonal respiratory illnesses can be found here.